Thursday, August 27, 2009

Books with a Past

A few days ago I noticed a fellow rider reading from a Kindle. Suddenly, a wave of emotions washed over me: one part drooling envy mixed with one part ambivalence. Its slick design, amazing storage capacity, not to mention the lure of instant reading gratification will almost certainly convert me. . . . eventually.

Still just as I prefer to hand my deposits to a bank teller, have my groceries rung up by a cashier, and purchase my movie tickets from a teen manning the box office, I will never abandon my love affair with the printed page. The tactical sensation of cracking a spine of a new best seller is too primal a call for me.

I also love the draw of books with a past. These are used books with a back story. Many times I have come home with my “new to me” books only to discover they have a past: airline tickets used as bookmarks; personal photos left in between the pages, and my favorite, inscriptions on the inside blank pages. The best inscriptions tell of new lives started (either literal or figurative) and I love to imagine where the recipients are today. Are “Dick and Jane” still happily wed, is little Johnny still the apple of his parents’ eyes; and did Mary ever learn to mediate from the New Age book that John gave her on her 50th birthday?

Today I thought I’d share one of my recent acquisitions with a past. From a copy of An Exhilaration of Wings The Literature of Birdwatching Edited by Jen Hill is the following inscription:
There is something special about birds. No wonder so many people are (and have been through the ages) absolutely enthralled and obsessed with studying these marvels of God’s creation.
I hope this inspires some more of your writing.
I hope so too!


  1. I was drooling when I read your post LOL I always said, I would never want a Kindle, as I prefer to hold an actual book; i love cover art etc. But, I know I will change my ways. My husband calls me "gadget girl", so I fear it's only a matter of time before temptation will win me over!

  2. I love your post, i can feel the passion! I have a Sony Ereader that i enjoy just because its compact but nope it will never replace the feel of a real book!

  3. Wow. What a great inscription to come across. I always find it fascinating when I come across inscriptions too. though I'm not sure I give it as much thought as you described...

  4. I KNOW what you mean.I have an old book that had a post it stuck in the front from a man to a lady saying I heard you talking about this book to so and so and I thought of you when I saw it in the bookstore.I hope you enjoy reading it and you looked beautiful today.I just imagined that it had been given to someone by an admirer although I dont think she was very impressed because it ended up back in the used bookstore with the note attached.I imagine if the note had made an impact that she would have kept it as a souvenir.I have notes and letters saved from 30 years ago but maybe not everyone is like me???

  5. Yvette that is such a cool story! I agree if it had worked out I imagine she would have kept it -- at least if she were like us!

  6. I have a Kindle because I won it. I do enjoy reading on it, but my husband does not. I just think e-readers just aren't for everyone.